General Dating Questions/Depressed Ex
My former boyfriend of 3 years dumped me in November last year (we're both 26).
He'd been dealing with depression after a car accident that also left him with mobility problems which affected his job. He started drinking a lot, becoming very aggitated and down right mean towards everyone. He was always snapping at me or acting really wreckless which in turn made me snap at him.
He said the reason he wanted out was because he knew he was not himself and it wasn't fair on me to treat me that way. His instructions were to move on and find someone else.
Prior to all of this behaviour he was a wonderful person. Truly a great guy and my absolute best friend and companion. Very supportive of me, romantic, funny. I was smitten with him.
2 weeks ago I had a frantic call from him saying he was on the roof of his apartment complex. I told him to come down but he wouldn't so i said to sit down and stay on the phone with me until I arrived. He was in tears saying how horrible his life is. That his body is falling apart and he's so sick of having aches and pains everywhere. I talked him down off the roof and made him something to eat which seemed to help. He wanted distraction so I told funny stories etc.
Since then he's been calling all the time and acting the same as when we were in a relationship. Greeting me with a kiss, holding my hand when we're walking together, paying for meals or movies, wanting me to stay over and cuddling me all night. I know he's exceptionally fragile right no so I don't dare ask what's going on with "us". But I'm wondering if he's just so depressed that he's re-living our relationship, he's lonely, or whether he believes it's actually back together?
I'm even seeing him tomorrow which will be the 3rd time this week. So far I've just been going with the flow and letting him lead. I couldn't bare if anything happened to him (suicide wise) so i'm accepting his advances.
I'm just wondering if you have any advice on how to act in this situation? What can I do to support him? But at the same time look after myself?
Thanks so much Dennis.
Are you a psychologist? You're not? (I know you're not, otherwise you'd know better.)
First of all, while he likely wasn't planning on killing himself he was reaching out for help. Since you're not qualified to help him why aren't you trying to get him the help he needs?
Let's get this out of the way: when someone is actually trying to hurt themselves, there's one - and ONLY ONE answer: you get them professional help right away. You don't take it on yourself to be the one to provide support or caring or anything else. You get that person into the love, caring arms of a professional that actually can help them.
This is a situation however where he's not in immediate danger from himself. With that said, helping to promote his depression by supporting it and rewarding him when he's down isn't going to help him. He still needs a professional - no excuses from either of you.
Any psychologist that has a lover, friend or family member in this situation understands that they are just too close to the situation to be of much long-term help. They always "refer out" when things get this bad. You need to take this to heart as well. You can't help him because you're just too close to the situation as well.
Further, by rewarding his behavior you're also encouraging him to continue it rather than to get better.
So, on to the relationship...
He has a pretty good deal right now in that he has you there for everything he needs while you're left floating around in a sea of unknown. Don't you think that's part of the game here? You have needs just like he does. You also have rights. He doesn't get to be fragile as an excuse for dealing with the issues. A good psychologist will tell him that too.
You can't let someone that is emotionally ill "lead" anything here. If you want to be in his life then you're going to need to be the strong one and lead this where you want it to go - to get help. Once that has begun you have other choices. Right now you have only the one because the alternative (the one you've chosen so far) isn't helping.
Dr. Dennis W. Neder
Producers: "BAM! TV" and “Love and Sex”
Publishers: "Being a Man in a Woman's World I, II & III”